On the surface, Casablanca has a lot going for it. It has a great name embued with a certain amount of romance, year-round warm weather, long strips of sandy beaches, some of the best cuisine in the country, and lots of modern conveniences. The question remains: with so much going for it, why Casablanca so disappointing for travelers? (more…)
As a leading player in the “green” travel industry, since our inception in 2007, the team at Journey Beyond Travel has been encouraging and promoting sustainable tourism in Morocco. At the outset of the 20th century, the continuous growth of tourism in Morocco began to take its toll on the country’s environment as well as the indigenous people. But unlike other nations, where tourism growth significantly damaged the environment, society and culture, Morocco, on the whole, quickly sought to take action to prevent too much harm from happening. (more…)
It’s a common refrain heard around the world: “It’s not easy being green.” In bright contrast to the Kermit dirge bemoaning the color green, the hillside town of Ouazzane, Morocco celebrates green. Greens of every tone are splashed across the medina walls and reflected in the fields and olive groves that surround the town. So, if you find yourself in this hillside medina on the edge of the Rif Mountains, the fact remains: It’s easy being green! Consider a road trip to Ouazzane! (more…)
I challenge any traveler to return from their holiday in Morocco without at least one piece of Fez pottery. It is impossible not to be drawn to the graphic lines and colorful arabesques. The careful craftsmanship of this pottery and its decoration is happily on display — seemingly on every corner. (more…)
I was traveling through the dusty south of Morocco, touring the Sahara with my guide, Hamid. He was trying to show me exactly where a particular scene in Ridley Scott’s epic film, Gladiator was shot. If you’ve seen Gladiator, you’ll remember Proximo (played by Oliver Reed, looking sufficiently Arab-ish) who purchases General Maximus (Russell Crowe). In one very memorable scene, Proximo says to the slaves, including the disgraced General Maximus: “I did not pay good money for you for your company. I paid it so that I could profit from your death.” (more…)
Before you board that plane for Morocco, remember to pack a book or a dozen. Not just for yourself, but for the Morocco Library Project! And while you’re at it, get a great book to read for yourself!!! Find out more about the Morocco Library Project and the Our Morocco anthology that supports it. (more…)
Walter Harris, a long-time Tangier resident and former news correspondent for The Times, would be elated. His Tangier house, a quintessential example of Moorish-European architecture, has not only been lovingly restored, but it is now a wonderful modern art museum bearing his name: Villa Harris Museum of Tangier. (more…)
The historic old medina of Marrakesh can be overwhelming. The hot Moroccan sun beats down while vendors callout at passersby, hoping for a quick sale. Clanging metal rings out from the ironmongers souk. In the Jemma el Fnaa, the Gnawa rhythm of drums and shrill flute of the snake charmers break through the din. Scooters rip through it all, quickly zigzag through the crowds. It’s no wonder that The Secret Garden of Marrakesh comes as such a reprieve! (more…)
When you imagine the people of Morocco, you maybe first imagine the sultans and viziers, the pashas, as the blue-turbaned men gracefully leading their train of camels through the vast sandy ergs of the Sahara. These are the men of Morocco, sure, but what of the women? Where are the heroines, the famous Moroccan women of Morocco?
In truth, after just a little digging, it is easy to find so many amazing, talented, and rightfully famous Moroccan women throughout history who have achieved incredible things. It was really hard to choose just a few Moroccan heroines for this article! Below, you’ll read about some of the incredible women of Morocco and their wonderful achievements… but do not think that this list is exhaustive! There are sooooo many more! (more…)
Peter Mayne’s A Year in Marrakesh was first published nearly 60 years ago. It remains a remarkable achievement in travel writing, even today, for its insights into a culture isolated from much of modernity’s reach. (more…)
Tangier is a history full of odd ducks and strange corners of history. You probably know that for the first half of the 20th century, it was a popular haunt for oil barons and shipping magnates, bankers and spies, thieves and artists. (more…)
The Ashura Festival in Morocco (often spelled: “achoura”) is truly a festival for kids… and kids at heart! Kids all get new toys, as well as the staple Darbuka (a goblet drum) and Berrada (a clay piggy bank). Kids go from playing music and eating healthy treats, like fakia, to playing with water.
But there is so much more to the Ashura Festival in Morocco than just drums and toys! Ashura is a perfect example of the Judaeo-Islamic tradition in Morocco, deeply rooted in values of tolerance and coexistence.
The long history of Morocco is filled with characters that seem to leap off the page. Perhaps none more so than the Sultan Moulay Ismail. At once feared and respected, villainized and lionized, this Moroccan sultan literally stood head and shoulders above other world leaders. His tall, lithe figure cut bright through his palaces—particularly on beheading days when his flowing saffron-yellow robes reflected the high noon sun of the Middle Atlas, framing his dark features. The sultan’s wrath, his justice, inevitable, like the fire-rimmed eclipse of the moon gliding over the sun. (more…)
“What should I wear?” – I often get this question from travelers coming to Morocco, particularly women, wondering what to wear in Morocco. While the country does not have a dress code, it is always a good thing to understand the culture before packing your suitcase. (more…)
Music and dance are an integral part of Moroccan life. During a trip to Morocco, you may witness processions of dancing villagers parading through the streets, or you might be kept awake late at night by the sound of rhythmic drums and the piercing ululations of wedding celebrations. While music and dance in Morocco can usually be categorized as indigenous Berber or classical Arab, you will also see and hear African, European and Jewish influences in these traditional art forms. Whatever the origins, dancing in Morocco has a long, storied heritage. (more…)
When traveling abroad, if you take the time to seek out and learn about local traditions, you’ll glimpse a window into what shapes a place and its culture. Sometimes these local traditions take the form of particular foods prepared in specific ways. Other times they might be a certain form of dress, community festivals, day-to-day routines, and music. All of which may seem exotic to visitors. But to locals, these typical traditions might seem to be rather hum-drum affairs or something they take great pride in. Here are a few things you should know about some of the more typical traditions in Morocco you can expect to find on your journey. (more…)
Photography in Morocco is known among photographers for being extremely challenging. Though in some part this is because of the natural elements, such as sand in the desert and snow on the mountains, what can really make photography difficult in Morocco are the people of Morocco! (more…)
Many visitors fly into Morocco perhaps not even aware that travel to and from Morocco’s neighboring countries is possible! Anyone can easily extend their visits to include Spain, the Spanish exclaves of Ceuta and Melilla, the UK exclave of Gibraltar, or even the Canary Islands. Though travel to Mauritania and the disputed Moroccan territory Western Sahara takes more planning, and considerable caution, adventurous travelers can even add these stops to their Morocco itinerary. (more…)
Tangier rests on a strange, wayward little corner of Africa. It is a great accident of history and privileged geography, having been the first stop in Africa for many people from around the world, as well as many foreigner’s first experience with a muslim culture. It has played host for thousands of years. “Much of Tangier’s history,” Richard Hamilton writes, “is a chronology of foreigners and exiles.” In fact, one could do a tour of Tangier solely on these misfits of history. These exiles have long been welcomed to promenade along the famed terrace of soor magazine, where 150 year-old cannons thrust out, down through the chaotic souks and on to the long stretch of sand along the bay. (more…)
Update: In September 2016, this iconic rock arch collapsed due to erosion. There is still an arch on the beach, but this one currently no longer exists.
Morocco is a country filled with beautiful hidden gems and Legzira Beach and its famous Rock Arch are undoubtedly a part of this collection. Tucked away between the two small towns of Mirleft and Sidi Ifni, Legzira Rock Arch Beach in Morocco’s southern Atlantic Coast is known as one of the most picturesque beaches in all of Africa. Like its other Atlantic counterparts, the 8km of sandy coast are windy, rocky and expansive. But they also hold a unique charm. (more…)
Halal tourism is a relatively new term and style of travel. It refers to meeting the needs and desires of Muslim tourists by providing services and amenities that Muslim travelers desire. There is no standard definition of defines an experience as falling into the category of halal travel, but several components stand out. In the most recent poll by Crescentranking, one of the first companies to provide rankings of Muslim-friendly destinations, they listed Morocco as the sixth most “halal friendly” travel destination. (more…)
Unless you already speak Arabic, you may be wondering how to best communicate with locals when you Morocco travel. As with any population, Moroccans tend to appreciate visitors who attempt to speak their language. However, in Morocco, Arabic is not your only option! (more…)
There are very few places on Earth that compare to the incredible landscapes you’ll see visiting the Sahara Desert. Running roughly north-south along Morocco’s eastern border with neighboring Algeria, the Sahara Desert is the world’s largest hot desert. In fact, the Sahara covers an area roughly the size of the entire United States. Many travelers visit Morocco specifically with the intention of venturing off into the desert and spending a night under the stars. And we can’t blame them! A desert adventure is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity you shouldn’t miss out on. (more…)
Less than 15 kilometers south of mainland Europe, across the Strait of Gibraltar, is Morocco – a fantastic destination of sand dunes, beaches, crowded markets, resort towns and jaw-dropping mountains. Morocco is a beautiful country and has a way of engaging all your senses, making it a place that is without a doubt worth a visit. Though Morocco has a reputation as a great destination for many sorts of travelers, Morocco is not well known for being a particularly gay-friendly destination like, say, Costa Rica. However, doesn’t mean that it’s completely lacking in LGBTQ tourism.
Ramadan is the month-long Islamic holiday celebrated each year. The Islamic calendar follows a lunar pattern so every year Ramadan moves 10 days forward on the Gregorian calendar each year. This year, Ramadan falls in the end of April – end of May. This is usually a high season for travelers visiting Morocco, though this year the country will be shuttered because of the coronavirus pandemic. While many people balk at visiting during Ramadan, anticipating problems or inconveniences, there’s no reason to put aside your plans. In fact, for the culturally curious, Ramadan might just be the best time of year to visit! However, before you begin your trip, it is important to know a few things about Ramadan. Here are a few things that will likely affect your visit, hopefully for the better! (more…)
You are headed to the African nation of Morocco. Your Moroccan tour operator has told you about visiting Berber villages. You have heard all about the Berber craftsmen, their knowledge of the land, some of their indestructible history and maybe a bit more. Or perhaps you’ve never heard of them at all. Just who are these Berber people? In short, in Morocco, the Berbers are a pre-Arab culture that has ruled unperturbed and unconquered for thousands of years. Let’s take a look at this amazing people! (more…)
Have you ever video chatted with the family back home while traversing the Sahara, perched on the hump of a dromedary strolling through the vast sand sea?
Yep. That’s a thing.
Over the past few years, people have often asked me what sort of books they should read about Morocco. That’s a tough question as there are quite a few really great books about this little kingdom nestled on the northwest corner of Africa. Still, I have my favorites. What follows has been born from an email exchange with a JBT client (and fellow University of Washington alum!). It is a list of what I believe to be the Best Books about Morocco. These are my favorite by Moroccans and non-Moroccans alike. Any one of these will help you to pull back the curtain, dive straight into the souks, into the mountains and desert, and understand even more about Morocco before your plane touches down. (more…)
Three days in Marrakesh. This is the average most travelers manage to spend in the Red City. Whether you’re coming for work or pleasure, it’s almost impossible to not spend at least a couple of nights in Marrakesh. And for good reason! Marrakesh is a delight, a feast for the eyes as well as all your other senses. It’s familiar and exotic. Decadent and humble. Rustic and opulent. And it manages to be all these things, and much more, all at once. It’s a place that has to be seen to be believed. For whatever reason, two nights seems to be the magical number to spend in Marrakesh. (more…)